Today marks the first day of Chinese New Year, and celebrations are going down around the world. Head to Chinatown in the next week and you'll surely see plenty of lanterns and dragons lining the streets. Stick around long enough and you might run into Dick Van Dick—a Bay Area-bred hip-hop artist who has a self-proclaimed obsession with Chinese culture. The artist spent his formative years frequenting Chinatowns in San Francisco, Oakland, Boston and now New York, where he calls home. When asked about where his love for Chinatown originated, Dick told us that for him, these neighborhoods hold "a certain permissiveness, combined with a general sense of people doing their own things, minding their own business. You can let your freak flag fly without fear of repercussion."
Dick's stepfather is Chinese, so he grew up hearing a lot of Mandarin spoken in his house. While admitting that his Chinese is "far from perfect," Dick said that "Mandarin is hilarious and elegant, full of macabre humor and cynical wisdom. I identify with that."
In our exclusive premiere of his new video for "KLLN KNTS," directed by Whitney Vangrin, Dick dons a studded mask and tromps through New York's Chinatown, mystifying passers-by with his bold outfits and irreverent attitude. His lyricism is playful and bouncy, taking the form of fucked-up nursery rhyme—shout outs to Peter Piper and Humpty Dumpty included. LA-based producer Matrixxman took production duties on this one, offering a bare-bones beat with a booming bass that brings Van Dick's flow to the fore.
About the video Dick said, "I'm daring the haters to hate, but instead we see people responding with open hearts and minds." Dick clearly had a blast putting this video together—now all we're wondering is where is his favorite soup dumpling spot in Chinatown?
Dick Van Dick is hosting the next installment of New York's Ghe20G0th1k party on February 12, which will feature Father, Venus X, Total Freedom and Boychild (tickets here). Be on the lookout for his next release on Doom Dab this summer.